Riddle me this: England To Be Stopped

16 10 2007

The World Cup Final

Time for the big one- the Rugby World Cup final. South Africa is there and that is no surprise. Most were picking themRiddler?  One-eyed All Black fan! to comfortably qualify from their side of the draw and they did just this. However their opponent is a huge shock. It is England.

After four year of complete hopeless and worthless rugby, the English find themselves in the final against all logical predictions. Do they deserve to be there? On their effort of the last few weeks nobody can deny them. On their efforts of the last four years as champions?  A definite ‘hell no’. On the basis of that it would be a complete travesty to see them salute in this tournament. However I think the ‘Boks have what it takes to ensure England don’t hoist Bill again and the Southern Hemisphere and tri Nations re-affirm their positions as the superior competition and hemisphere.For the first time in World Cup history we see two sides playing each other twice in the world cup which gives some insight of what to expect.  If you cast your mind back four weeks ago, these two sides met in the second week of the competition. Vickery roarsThat day we saw South Africa completely dominate and humiliate England to the darkest day in their history when they pummeled them 36-0. Obviously a lot of soul searching happened after that. From that game onwards, it has been sudden death for England and to their credit they have risen to every challenge. They fought hard to get up over Samoa then Tonga. They ambushed Australia with a brilliant display of forward domination and they put the French to the sword like they always do in world cups. Quite a few people will say they are lucky to be where they are but they have taken their chances and well done to them.

On the other side of the draw we have South Africa. They have been racking up the points left right and centre. Unlike the English who have relied upon stifling the life out of its opponents with boring unimaginative stop start forward play, the South Africa have played with great flair and have scored at least 3 tries in every match. Their leading try scorer in Habana has scored almost as many tries as the entire English side.

These sides have met three times this year and on every occasion South Africa have slaughtered them. They destroyed them 58-10 in Bloemfontein, massacred the 55-22 in Pretoria and humiliated them 36-0 in the stadium where the World Cup final will be played. A stadium where they also destroyed the English 44-21 in 1999.

The one key difference in the final to those three games played this year will be Jonny Wilkinson. Can one player make a 36 point difference?  In my opinion no. It will be closer than 36 points but the Spring’Boks are a very polished unit.

What England can expect from South Africa is a team with the forward capabilities of France who more than held their own against the English and the backline capabilities of the Australian who despite being starved of ball against England, where clearly the dominant backline when they had ball in hand.

‘Boks Captain John Smit - leads from the frontlines… I am expecting some tough forward work by both teams here and possession to be pretty even, but a clear and distinct dominance in the backline to South Africa. The boot of Wilkinson cannot be under-estimated but South Africa has some brilliant kickers of their own who can drop goals from anywhere in their half. A lot of people seem to think targeting Percy Montgomery with the high balls might be the go but the much ridiculed Percy has had a brilliant year and has looked steady as a rock.

I am tipping the ‘Boks to win this by around 15 points. Can’t see England scoring more than 15 and I can see the ‘Boks racking up around 3 tries on the weak English backline. This should round out a brilliant year for South African rugby with the World Cup and their first super 14 championship.

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4 responses

16 10 2007

I had forgotten that the Super 14 final was played in SA between two teams. However, having said that, one must not forget that the AB players of the Kiwi Super 14 sides were not allowed to play during the first few games. And regrettably those affected teams just couldn’t catch up on the points. Pathetic move really in hindsight, seeing it didn’t help at all in the World Cup. And it definitely affected the result of the Super 14 quite dramatically.
Of course the Super 14 was played between the Bulls and the Sharks which teams have provided the bulk of the Springboks team.

16 10 2007
The Riddler

Sorry Anya,
I don’t buy that. Auckland and Canterbury were 1-2 in the competition entering the final weeks. They both underperformed towards the end of the super 14 season with their full squads. They should have consolidated home ground advantage but didn’t. Sharks and Bulls deserved their 1-2 spot. Especially the Bulls who needed to beat Queensland by 70 to secure a home semi and lifted to beat them by 89 points. One of the greatest performances seen in Super 14 history.

16 10 2007

hey riddler
no-one likes us but do we care?

the logic of your argument is entirely sound but don’t you sense one of the great sports stories unfolding here with an unlikely England win? it will be dull if the overwhelming favourites do stuff E again as you forecast. But what a drama if E could pull out one more great game in this amazing tournament. I can smell hollywood getting interested. check out the blog for the likely casting.

will check back after the weekend to gloat or congratulate you!

18 10 2007

It’s not over till the fat lady sings

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